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News for Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Baptisms Increase in 2013
By Lonnie Wilkey
editor, Baptist and Reflector

BRENTWOOD — Tennessee Baptist Convention churches baptized 21,708 people in 2013, according to the latest information from the Annual Church Profile.

The 2013 total is an increase of 82 or 0.4 percent more than were baptized in 2012.

The increase in baptisms is the first in two years as baptisms decreased in 2012 from the previous year.

Randy C. Davis, executive director/treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, said he felt one reason for the increase is that more Tennessee Baptists are becoming aware of the fact that “Tennessee is a mission field and not a church field.”

Davis also observed that “there appears to be a growing burden for lost people across the street as well as across the ocean.”

While Davis is pleased with the rise in baptisms, there is still work to be done.

“We must win Tennessee. It is not a matter of feeling good about an increase. It’s about feeling a responsibility for those in the state who do not yet know Christ,” he said.

Last year TBC staff, led by Bobby Welch, associate executive director, introduced several initiatives and strategies to assist churches in reaching the lost such as “More Life” and 1-5-1 Harvest Plants.

While it may be too early to see the impact of these initiatives Davis said the fact there is a strong focus on impacting lostness in Tennessee has raised awareness.

“By putting simple low or no cost tools in the hands of our churches, they have been able to disciple their members in order that they can be more effective in their evangelism efforts to reach the lost in their communities,” Davis noted.

“These are exciting days,” said Steve Pearson, state evangelism director.

“The free fall decline in evangelism effectiveness has stopped and now Great Commission times begin. Pray that this report is not a one time event but ever increasing in the years to come. Remember it’s only ‘Good News’ if they hear it in time.

Davis is optimistic that baptisms will continue to increase.

“I very strongly believe that we must, that we can, and that we will win, baptize, and disciple more Tennesseans,” he said.

The Baptist and Reflector will print its annual list of leading churches in baptisms and CP giving in an upcoming issue.

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